David buckingham


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David buckingham

  1. 1. After the Death of Childhood:<br />Growing up in the Age of Electronic Media<br />David Buckingham believes that Youth Identity and Childhood are ever changing or possibly nonexistent. Childhood is a very modern concept, hasn’t been around forever. As media and social concerns change, childhood will also change. More young people have private interactions with media than ever before. 11 year olds have mobile phones, their own TV, and some even have their own PC. As children are allowed to freely interact with these devices they often choose to view and interact with more adult media than they should. So in this respect children are growing up faster and losing their childhood. But as the real world is becoming more difficult and competitive to enter children, teenager, young adults become more reliant on their parent for funding and shelter. Also, as the world becomes a more scary place parents feel urged to keep their children away from it, so children spend a lot more time indoors interacting with electronic media. The divide between rich and poor students is becoming more visible as many of the well-off students are tech savvy and own mobile phones while the poorer ones struggle, as they do not have up to date technology at home. It is hard for these poorer students to fit in with this electronic culture.<br />Look at the following quotes to help you form a better and more in-depth idea of Buckingham’s theory. This all contributes to your ‘Case Study’.<br />Main Point: <br />Childhood is a social construction; the idea of childhood is not given or fixed, always changing.<br />Popular debate: Electronic media as the villain or cause for children’s premature entrance into adulthood. Pg. 25<br />The distinction between Adults and children is disappearing.<br />“I have argued that children’s lives – and hence the meanings we attribute to ‘childhood’ – have indeed changed significantly in the pat two or three decades. “<br />My debate also suggests that childhood is changing in much less dramatic and much more ambivalent and contradictory ways than such commentators have tended to suggest. I agree that understanding these changes requires us to move beyond essentialism, and to recognize the diverse and provisional nature of contemporary childhoods. <br />Our contemporary conception of childhood is premised on various forms of separation or exclusion. As numerous historian s have shown, the modern ‘invention; of childhood depended on the separation between adults and children, and the exclusion of children from domains of life that were deemed to be exclusively adult. This was achieved by the partial removal of children from the workplace and the streets, and their containment within the institution of the school and the family home. Children were defined by their exclusion from the public worlds of commerce and politics, and by their subjection to regimes of moral and pedagogic guardian ship expressly designed to police the boundaries between adults and children. His evidence suggests that these boundaries have been blurred. What he argues is that these boundaries have in some way been blurred but have also been reinforced and extended.<br />He is saying that childhood is ending several years earlier than it once did. Children being exposed to things such as drugs, sex, violence, divorce, crime, and things that they are not yet mature enough to deal with. As children become more aware of these things, they may want to experience them. On the other hand because of these things children have been increasingly segregated and excluded. They now spend much more of their lives confined in the institutions that are overtly intended to prepare them for, and yet to keep them safe from, the adult world.<br />Children’s Leisure time<br />“Broadly speaking, the principal location of children’s leisure has move from public spaces (such as the street) to family spaces (the domestic living room) to private spaces (the bedroom). Anxiety about ‘stranger danger’, traffic and other threats to children has encouraged parents to furnish the home (and particularly the child’s bedroom) as a diverting, technologically rich alternative to the perceived risks of the outside world.<br />Children’s leisure has become inexorably tied up with the ‘consumer revolution; of the postwar period; and in the process, many sports facilities, museums, youth clubs) have either fallen into decline or been required to reinvent themselves as commercial concerns – and have hence become less readily accessible to poorer children.” Pg. 72<br />Children are growing up faster – first sexual experience sooner, physically developing 2.5 years earlier, 9% of people who are HIV positive are teenagers, drugs and alcohol are a taken-for-granted aspect of young peoples lives.<br />Children’s leisure time has become more ‘curricularized’ and more consumer oriented, and the difference between the two is not always easy to identify. Children’s dependency on adults is being extended rather than shortened.<br />Children used to be seen and not heard, but now children are becoming more empowered. They have social power. Children now have rights to education, legal representation and welfare provision, which were previously denied to them. Pg. 75<br />Children are now almost equally seen as threatened and threatening. Pg. 76<br />Defining childhood is a hard thing to do. You can only define a child by what it is not, - the adult. <br />Changing Media<br />Buckingham suggests that young people are in the ‘avant-garde’ (advanced) of many contemporary developments in electronic media. Pg. 80<br />Power in the media is fixed on the relationship between technologies, institutions, texts and audiences. So, they all must coexist with and for one another. Pg. 80.<br />Children and Parents are among the most sought after audiences for media institutions.<br />Over half the children in the UK from 8-14 have televisions in their bedroom. Making the consumption and choice of media independent.<br />Children are becoming their own media producers. Many children have their own computer, where they can sample music, create music, make videos, and manipulate images. <br />These new technologies create a polarity between rich and poor students. Those students who do not have access to these new technologies have a more difficult time fitting in and keeping up with the others in school.<br />Content of films and video have changed from being publicly policed to privately policed as many are watching videos in private areas. This now raises concerns of ownership.<br />One inevitable consequence of this development has been the integration of the media industries, both vertically and horizontally. The media market is now dominated by a small number of multinational conglomerates; and for nationally based companies, success in the international market is increasingly recognized as a necessity for survival. In practice, globalization tends to mean US domination: most of the UK’s cable and satellite industry, for example, is effectively owned by American companies. Most empires like Sony/ Universal or Vivendi are cross-media empires: they integrate broadcasting, publishing, media and digital technology, and in many cases have interests in both hardware and software. Vertical integration has thus been accompanied by a form of horizontal integration. In this new environment, the media are no longer simple a means o delivering audiences to advertisers. The are also increasingly a means of delivering audiences to other media. <br />Many of these new technologies bypass regulation at a national level. On the other hand, the increasing accessibility of digital technology reduces the costs of entry to many areas of the media production (and, in some cases, of distribution) and thereby contributes to the blurring of the distinction between ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ producers.<br />This access to a grand amount of media creates the need for niche markets. A niche market is a subset of the market a specific product is focusing on, highly specialized. Things that are highly specialized tend to be higher in cost, which is increasingly difficult for the masses to get a hold of. This leads to mass culture.<br />These developments have led to growing calls to defend the tradition of public service broadcasting against the invasion of commerce. Commercialization has been seen to result in the inevitable ‘dumbing down’ of children’s television: domestic production of genres such as contemporary drama and factual programmes has, it is argued, steadily lost out to the global dominance of US cartoons. In fat, the evidence on these points is quite ambivalent, and the debate itself clearly invokes much broader questions about national identity and cultural value, which (as we shall see) are often defined very conservatively when it comes to children. Nevertheless, these developments in thinking about the child audience, at least within the media industries: as I shall indicate in more detail below, the vulnerable child in need of protection has increasingly given way to the child as ‘self-governing consumer’.<br />Distinctions between videos, computer games, movies, TV shows, advertisements and print texts have become increasingly irrelevant; and the media have become much more firmly bound up with the merchandising of a whole range of other products. More and more media texts are somehow spin-offs or advertisements for other texts or commodities. Pg. 88.<br />As a result, interetextuality has become a dominant characteristic of contemporary media. Many of the texts that are perceived as distinctively postmodern are highly allusive, self-referential and ironic. They self-consciously draw on the other texts in the form of pastiche, homage or parody; they juxtapose incongruous elements from different historical periods, genres or cultural contexts’ and they play with established conventions of form and representation. In the process, they implicitly address their readers or viewers as knowing ‘media literate’ consumers. Pg. 88<br />Contemporary media is interactive the audience is now the reader is no longer a passive subject of the text – and indeed the only text is the one the reader chooses to write’.<br />Intertextuality could be seen simply as a consequence of increasing commodification, and the need to exploit successes across a wider range of media within a shorter time-scale. And despite the potential for interactivity, there is an undeniable gap between rhetoric and reality in a great deal of commercial software: many so-called ‘interactive’ texts are far from interactive, offering a fixed and highly circumscribed repertoire of possibilities. Pg. 89.<br />Young peoples media tends to cross boundaries they are not only TV shows; they are now films, t-shirts, toys, lunchboxes, computer games, action figures, etc. Just look at Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Super Mario Brothers.<br />The same is true for popular music, as the success of performers like Madonna, Take That and the Spice Girls shows. Michael Jackson as a musician or a singer is inseparable from Michael Jackson as performer, as a video producer and film star, as an advertiser (at least until recently), as a charity worker, as an icon on T-shirts and posters, and – most spectacularly – as a public property, as someone who is the subject of a whole other set of texts, on TV, in the popular press, and in everyday conversation. Michael Jackson produces commodities, but he is also a commodity himself. And, of course, he is emblematic of many of the wider social changes that have been seen as characteristics of postmodernity, because of his fundamental ambiguity: he is simultaneously male and female, black and white (although of course it doesn’t matter), and most problematically, an innocent child and a highly sexual adult.<br />Children are able to watch and consume media as freely as they like in most cases. Research suggests that children have always preferred adult media over media produced for them. Thus, children are seen to be partially at risk no just from screen violence but also from the negative images of family life in soap operas; and, of course, there is growing anxiety about the dangers of the Internet, in the form of pornography and the deductions of pedophiles.<br />In this new market-led environment, it is argued, children are at last being empowered to make their own decisions about what they will experience and know about, without the controlling hand of adults who purport to know what is good for them.<br />Children and Youth are a distinct social group and want to be treated as such. A successful example of this is the TV Channel Nickelodeon where it’s all about kids; their views, interests, their not being adults, their being fun and innovative. It gives children a sense of empowerment. But we must remember that adults have sold this empowerment to them. So this idea of independence is not true it is more about enabling children to be independent consumers but masquerading it as social rights.<br />It is primarily older children who are gaining access to adult media, while it is younger children who are being most aggressively targeted as a new niche market. While the boundaries between older children and youth may be blurring, the gap between younger and older children may also be widening. Pg. 99<br />Children’s television producers now acknowledge that the bulk of older children’s viewing is given over to adult programmes, and the content and style of the programmes aimed at them clearly reflect this. The social issues addressed in a children’s soap like Grange Hill for example have much in common with those in adult soaps like East Enders; while the visual style and pace of kids’ magazine shows like Live and Kicking have clearly influenced the approach of adult programmes like the big breakfast. While some critics complained about the preciousness of children’s programmes, others are now beginning to bemoan what they see as the infantilization of adult television.<br />On the other hand, ‘ youth’ has become an extremely elastic category that seems to extend ever further upwards. In their shared enthusiasm for Britpop, Nike sportswear, Nintendo or South park, for example, ten-year-olds and forty-year-olds can be seen as members of a ‘youth’ market that is quite self-consciously distinct from a ‘family’ market. In this environment, ‘youth’ has come to be perceived as a kind of lifestyle choice, defined by its relationship to specific brands and commodities, and also available to those who fall well outside its biological limits (which are fluid in any case). In ‘youth television’ and now in the marketing of popular music, ‘youth’ possess a symbolic significance that can refer to fantasy identities as much as to material possibilities – a phenomenon which itself can only help to when the audience, and hence to enhance its market value. Recent advertising campaigns for the computer game Mortal Kombat and the Sony Playstation, for example, have been explicitly addressed to young adults, suggesting that the games console is now being marketed as an acceptable adult toy. Here again, this has lead to some commentators to suggest that adults, and particularly adult men, are thereby being encouraged to retreat into immature, adolescent fantasies.<br />How old you are – or how old you imagine yourself to be – is increasingly defined by what you consume. To this extent, ‘childhood’, like ‘youth’, has become a symbolic commodity in its own right.<br />The separation between children and adults’ social and media worlds is becoming more apparent, even if the terms of that separation are being reconfigured. On one level, older children can no longer be so easily ‘protected’ from experiences that ate seen to be morally damaging or developmentally unsuitable. The walls that surround the sacred garden o of childhood have become much easier to climb. And yet children, particularly younger children, are increasingly participating in cultural and social worlds that are inaccessible, even incomprehensible, to their parents. Pg. 101<br />New technologies bring hitherto inaccessible means of cultural expression and communication within children’s reach’ and they could enable their views and perspectives to be heard much more widely. Far from contributing to social polarization, the media could be a means of enabling children to communicate across their differences. However, these developments will not take place automatically, or simply as a result of the availability of equipment. Pg. 102<br />Conclusion<br />Children are increasingly gaining access to ‘adult’ media, and being ‘empowered’ as consumers in their own right; yet the commercialization and privatization of the media (and of leisure provision more broadly) are also contribution to the growth of inequalities . If children are indeed now living; media childhood;, the media environments they inhabit have become increasingly diverse.<br />I have argued that we need to situate the activities of child audiences within their social contexts – in relation to other social forces in children’s lives, and in relation to the changing nature of media technologies, texts and institutions.<br />